My advice to you, friends, is to turn aside occasionally from troubled and anxious pondering on paths you may be treading, and to travel on smoother ways where the gifts of God are serenely savored, so that the thought of him may give breathing space to you whose consciences are perplexed. I should like you to experience for yourselves the truth of the holy prophet’s words: Make the Lord your joy and he will give you what your heart desires. Sorrow for sin is indeed necessary, but it should not be an endless preoccupation.
You must dwell also on the glad remembrance of God’s loving kindness, otherwise sadness will harden the heart and lead it more deeply into despair. Let us mix honey with our absinthe–it is more easily drunk when sweetened–and what bitterness it may still retain will be wholesome. You must fix your attention on the ways of God, seeing how he mitigates the bitterness of the heart that is crushed, how we wins back the pusillanimous soul from the abyss of despair, how he consoles the grief-stricken and strengthens the wavering with the sweet caress of his faithful promise.
His loving mercy is greater than all iniquity. Hence the just man is not always accusing himself; he does so only in the opening words of his discourse with God. He will normally conclude that exchange with divine praises.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 11 on the Song of Songs, CF 4, pp 70–71